South Africa’s speaker of parliament has approved a secret ballot in relation to Tuesday’s vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma’s leadership.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete – from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) – made the announcement on Monday afternoon following a period of consideration, opening the door for rebel ANC members of parliament to potentially vote against their own party.
The rand climbed up by around 1.5% against the dollar following the announcement by the speaker.
The motion of no confidence, which was brought to the speaker by a coalition of opposition parties, will need at least 50 of the ANC’s 249 MPs to vote with the opposition to remove President Jacob Zuma from office.
#SecretBallot . Bravo Speaker!
— Bantu Holomisa (@BantuHolomisa) August 7, 2017
The decision by Mbete provides what could be the greatest threat to President Zuma’s eight-year rule, which has been dogged by controversies over alleged corruption, including misappropriating state funds to upgrade the president’s home in Nkandla and facilitating ‘state capture’ together with the controversial Gupta family.
The president denies that he knowingly misappropriated funds and he has also dismissed the accusations of ‘state capture’.
If successful, Zuma could face impeachment which would be highly damaging to the ANC, which has resisted previous opposition attempts to unseat the president. Despite surviving past motions of no confidence, the latest episode in Zuma’s leadership drama has split the ANC with members including former Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa openly criticising Zuma.
However, it is unclear if the ANC would vote in favour of an opposition motion which could cause serious political damage to the ruling party. The vote will take place at midday local time and the result should be known by the end of the day.